The following was written 7-3 in Chiang Mai.

12:44PM I got into Kristi House last night around 9:30PM. The front desk must close early because only the after-hours security guard was there. He spoke very little English, but managed to get me a room.

I can’t say I’m very impressed with the place. It’s more of a hotel than a guest house. The rooms are very plain and impersonal. I didn’t think of this at the time, but I probably shouldn’t have taken guest house advice from a smoker. Smoking is allowed in all the rooms here. But that doesn’t bother me – if it weren’t for the ashtray and sign that asks you not throw butts out the window, I probably wouldn’t know. What bothers me is the smell of the horrible strongly scented cleaner they must use to mask the smoke.

But for 200 Baht, it’s a very good deal. I have a queen size bed and a private bathroom.

After checking in last night I headed down the block to the Sunday Night Market, a seemingly endless row of craft vendors. Had I not been limited by the space in my backpack, it would be incredibly hard to hold on to my Baht. As it was, I just feasted on a variety of food and fresh-squeezed juices.

I seem to have lucked out in location. There are excellent restaurants all over the place. I’ll be putting on some weight here.

Today for breakfast I had a sort of noodle soup with chicken and vegetables. They also had chocolate milk shakes, so I indulged, even though I should be avoiding dairy.

This morning I signed up for a trek. 1,100 Baht for 2 days, 1 night. Elephant riding, white-water rafting, bamboo rafting, hill-tribes, and all of that. We leave tomorrow at 9:30AM. (Tomorrow is the 4th of July? It seems it was just the 1st yesterday.) I chose the short trek because I think I’ll be doing more of them as my journey continues.

After I get back from the Trek, I think I’ll spend one more night in Chiang Mai (not at Kristi). Then I’m considering following the “Northern Loop” itinerary in Lonely Planet till I get distracted and decide to break off.

One thing I’ve decided for sure that I want to do is stay at the Akha Hill House, a remotely located guest house run by the Akha tribes people. It sound like a nice place to stay and do little for a few days, plus they organize overnight stays in the surrounding jungle with guides who build huts and cook with bamboo. It’ll be like a Ray Mears TV show… kinda.

I’m enjoying Chiang Mai. It’s much calmer than Bangkok, and less smelly. It’s just as hot in the day, but a little cooler at night. Surprisingly, there’s an incredible amount of Farang here. Much more so than Bangkok. You can’t walk a block without seeing another white person.

The architecture of the Wats is very cool – sort of a Buddhist spin on Ronan from Lord of the Rings – but they’re small and all rather similar, so there’s little sight seeing to do here in that department.